Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 533 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: March 26 2018
(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)
Joining the annual releases covering the best matches from Raw and SmackDown is this compilation of NXT’s in-ring highlights from 2017, which includes stand-out clashes from the occasional TakeOver specials. The year 2017 was an intriguing one for the brand, because the common consensus as 2016 ended was that the brand had passed its peak. However, a regular supply of fresh, exciting talent along with the usual high standards of action meant that it ended up being another strong year for NXT, as we see here.
The collection opens with two NXT Tag Team Championship defences by #DIY against TM61 and The Revival, and predictably, the action is well worth watching. Next up is Bobby Roode’s crowning moment to unseat Shinsuke Nakamura as NXT Champion at TakeOver: San Antonio, to continue the “Glorious!” momentum that Roode had gathered since his NXT debut the previous summer. Corey Graves’ farewell from the NXT announcer’s booth is followed by Asuka’s first appearance of the set, as she puts the NXT Women’s Championship – and her undefeated streak – at stake against Peyton Royce.
It’s then onto TakeOver: Orlando for an eight-person tag bout (Sanity against Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno, Tye Dillinger and Ruby Riot) which is good, but arguably not the best match that could have been chosen from this particular show. Drew McIntyre returned to WWE with an on-camera appearance at that show, and he entered NXT rings shortly thereafter as we see in the next match, pitting him against Oney Lorcan. Shinsuke’s own NXT goodbye ceremony is followed by a great Steel Cage match between Dillinger and Sanity’s Eric Young to close disc one.
A Hideo Itami-Roderick Strong clash opens disc two, but of greater note is the subsequent match, arguably the best WWE bout of the whole year, as Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne put on a classic bout for the United Kingdom Championship at TakeOver: Chicago. A cracking Ladder match between the Authors Of Pain and #DIY for the tag titles from the same night follows, and it includes the heel turn by Tommaso Ciampa on Johnny Gargano to set up their feud which, due to Ciampa’s injuries, will only culminate next month in what is sure to be a great match at TakeOver: New Orleans, the night before WrestleMania 34.
Another Hideo Itami match against Oney Lorcan is up next, but again Itami’s efforts are overshadowed by the match that comes immediately thereafter, in this case being the awesome Last Woman Standing showdown between Asuka and Nikki Cross, which is one hell of a brawl. Bobby Roode then defends the NXT Championship against Roderick Strong, before a Ruby Riot-Ember Moon showdown and a #1 Contender’s bout between McIntyre and Killian Dain bring disc two to an end.
Disc three kicks off with Aleister Black, who battles Kyle O’Reilly in a strong debut for the Dutch powerhouse. Next up, it’s a terrific match between Gargano and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas from the third TakeOver: Brooklyn show (though the two would have an even better match for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Philadelphia two months ago). Asuka is next to receive the “thank you!” treatment in the next segment, before a match from a live event in Lowell, Massachusetts between Gargano and Raul Mendoza, which feels slightly out of place.
A six-man tag between The Undisputed Era and Sanity is rather entertaining, as is the sight of Shawn Michaels sporting the referee stripes in another non-televised clash from his hometown of San Antonio, as McIntyre defends the NXT title (which he won from Roode in Brooklyn) against Adam Cole of The Undisputed Era. The final two matches of the DVD come from TakeOver: War Games, with McIntyre’s shock NXT Championship loss to Almas in another fun match, and the War Games main event from the same show (as you might expect) where The Undisputed Era, Sanity and the combo of The Authors Of Pain and Roderick Strong put on a thoroughly gripping showcase of absolute chaos, in a great first showing for the War Games match in a WWE environment.
This isn’t the best NXT DVD to date; the inclusion of so many television matches as a way of highlighting particular stars means that some of the better matches that the brand provided in 2017 (the three-way tag match from TakeOver: Orlando, and either of Asuka’s matches with Ember Moon come to mind) are omitted, so it’s not chock-full of highlights as per the previous two NXT collections. However, it’s still a really good wrestling compilation, and there are still plenty of superb matches to fully warrant a purchase. It’s also evidence that while NXT may have passed its initial peak a few years back, the groundwork has been laid for the brand to arguably achieve even greater things as 2018 rolls on. If that is the case, 2017 will have played an important role in that, making this DVD worth watching that much more.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent